The Australasian Oaks (2000m) is the second Group 1 on the card at Morphettville on Saturday as the Adelaide Racing Carnival officially gets underway.
A capacity field of three-year-old fillies will lineup with just over $500,000 in prize-money on the line, and not surprisingly, you could easily make a case for more than a handful.
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s lightly-raced filly Steinem has been installed as the short-priced favourite despite seeing her unbeaten run come to an end last time out in the Auraria Stakes, while Chris Waller is looking to win the race for a third time with Brookspire on the short backup.
For everything you need to know on each horse, be sure to read our complete 2021 Australasian Oaks Preview!
Last year’s VRC Oaks winner Personal strips fitter for three runs back and can be forgiven for her last start seventh in the Vinery Stud Stakes behind Hungry Heart at Rosehill.
The filly by Fastnet Rock looked well on her way to finding the money in the early stages before failing to let-down from a three-wide position over the final furlong.
Prior to that, the Lindsay Park three-year-old had found the placings in back-to-back starts at Flemington in The Vanity and The Kewney Stakes, while she also landed in the money over this trip in the Wakeful prior to her Oaks win.
The wide barrier makes things tricky for Damien Oliver, but a place isn’t out of the question.
The lightly-raced Chica Fuerte is having her fourth run back from a spell after going all-the-way to win the Group 3 Alexandra Stakes at The Valley two runs back over the mile.
The filly by Hinchinbrook failed to repeat that performance over further however, weakening out late for sixth in the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas at Morphettville three weeks ago.
She does own a win over this trip at Caulfield in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes during the spring, but is likely to find this tougher.
New Zealand import Tokorangi will make her Australian debut on Saturday under trainer Michael Maroney.
The daughter by Redwood won the Group 2 Waikato Guineas over this same trip earlier in February where she gapped her rivals by nearly two lengths.
She’s been kept fresh since running seventh in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby and would likely appreciate any extra sting out of the ground.
Scott Brunton’s unbeaten filly Hela is shooting for eight in a row on Saturday as she makes the journey up from Tasmania for the first time.
The lightly-raced three-year-old was a well-supported $1.80 favourite four runs back in the 1000 Guineas in Hobart where she gapped her rivals by nearly four lengths after racing close to the speed.
She then went on to win by a similar margin in the Listed Strutt Stakes before making it look all too easy in a Benchmark 84 two weeks ago over the mile.
This is obviously her toughest test, but with long-time jockey David Pires engaged from an ideal gate, the Tasmanian rates as one of the top chances.
Llanacord follows a similar path to Tokorangi as she prepares for her first start in Australia under the care of trainer Stephen Nickalls.
The Kiwi raider won her maiden over a similar trip at Wanganui earlier in February before going on to claim the Group 2 Lowland Stakes in Hastings two weeks later.
She probably deserved to finish a little closer than third in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks two runs back before finishing just a half-length fourth over the mile in her latest.
With plenty of fitness on her side, she’s an ideal each-way prospect despite the awkward gate.
Ecumenical has been targeted at this race ever since she stepped out at Morphettville last month over much shorter.
The daughter of Zebedee won the Listed Claire Lindop Stakes over the mile in her second run back from a spell and managed to bounce-back from a disappointing performance in the Port Adelaide Guineas to run second in the Auraria Stakes.
Like a few others she’s drawn awkwardly, but this trip looks ideal for her now after making up a stack of ground in her latest.
Mick Huxtable’s three-year-old ran fourth in the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield during the spring and the $21.00 on offer at time of publish might be a touch over the odds.
Tyche Goddess caused a boil-over last time out in the Group 3 Auraria Stakes beating home the well-backed Ecumenical as a 41-1 shot.
Her run from well back in the field was impressive to say the least, but she’ll likely need to settle much closer to the speed this time up to 2000m.
This is a much tougher assignment, but after placing in her only run over this trip in the Wakeful at Flemington during the spring, she isn’t the worst.
Ripper Rita very rarely runs a poor race.
She scored a well-deserved win two weeks ago in The Sires Guineas over the mile at Caulfield, but this is no doubt a much tougher task racing at Group 1 level for the first time.
How she handles her first look at 2000m also looks a query.
Sirileo Miss has been a consistent customer since she won on debut at Bendigo back in November.
The filly by Pride Of Dubai returned to work to win first-up at Sandown by a huge margin in a Benchmark 64 before more recently finishing half-a-length third to Tyche Goddess in the Auraria Stakes.
Like many others, this is a big test stepping up to 2000m for the first time, but her recent form and the fact Craig Williams has been booked to ride is a big plus.
Hoping to win the race for the first time, Godolphin will lineup promising filly Flexible in the Australasian Oaks,
The three-year-old by Hallowed Crown has been up since December, but she has been a model of consistency winning back-to-back mid-week races at Warwick Farm and Kensington prior to an impressive third in the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes over this trip on Day 1 of The Championships.
Barrier 4 should see her get well back in the run, and the booking of William Pike obviously commands plenty of respect.
Mozzie Monster makes the journey to South Australia for the first time looking to snap a recent run of placings.
The Sebring filly worked home well from a three-wide position to finish second to Annavisto in the Bendigo Guineas before repeating that same performance two weeks later at Caulfield.
She’s unproven beyond the mile, but could be on the scene late if her previous two runs are any indication.
Chris Waller will lineup Brookspire on Saturday hoping to win the Oaks for a second year in a row.
The Hinchinbrook filly hasn’t been on the scene for long, but she did make a name for herself winning by a comfortable margin last week at Caulfield over the mile.
The Waller team clearly feel as though she’s capable of returning a similar result on the quick backup, while the way she finished through the line last week suggests she’ll see out the extra distance in her stride.
If Michael Walker can establish a spot off just off the speed again, the pair should be right in the finish.
Steinem has opened the short-priced favourite in Australasian Oaks betting after winning her first two starts by a combined four lengths at Pakenham and Sandown.
The Frankel filly saw her hat-trick bid come up short when a length fourth to Tyche Goddess in the Auraria Stakes, but that was certainly a run she can improve on after having to do plenty of work from out wide.
Drawing to get the gun run from barrier 1, she should be doing her best work late.
Flying Mascot follows a similar path to Steinem into the Oaks despite failing to finish off in her usual style for eighth in the Auraria Stakes.
Before that, the Tavistock filly won first-up at Sandown by a narrow margin before running second to Captain Spud over the mile at Caulfield.
She is worth forgiving on her run in the Auraria after settling out wide, but the fact she might take a similar sit from barrier 12 goes against her.
Miss Gobcain won her maiden over a similar trip at Mornington last year before claiming her second win at Pakenham two back over the mile.
She has found the placings in six of her seven starts to date, but after finding the 1800m too tough in the Auraria, this looks a big ask.
Media Award is shooting for her hat-trick after winning back-to-back starts at Kyneton and Geelong.
She’s returned a place in four of her five starts to date, but would likely appreciate some sting out of the track.
Americain Angel is the first emergency in Saturday’s field and could prove a major player if she earns a spot.
The filly by Americain made up big ground to finish third to Brookspire last week over the mile at Caulfield and has drawn to get a lovely run in transit under Damian Lane.
Spectacle is the second emergency in the 2021 Australasian Oaks field.
She’s Dreaming is the second emergency in the 2021 Australasian Oaks field.